I was starting to worry that my favourite week of the year was going to be a bust. Clean-Up Week was almost over and I had yet to pick up a single curbside treasure.
Luckily, I scored a few great pieces on the last day before the garbage trucks rolled through town to pick everything up. My best find was this oval coffee table. It was in good shape, but I suspect no one had snagged it because it was missing a huge glass panel. (And what’s the point of a coffee table with a gaping hole?)
It was a beast of a thing so I decided it needed to be trimmed down a bit. Our living room isn’t very big and our sectional sofa takes up a lot of room. We’d gone years without a coffee table and only missed having one sometimes — we certainly didn’t want or need anything huge.
My husband took it apart and lopped off each end of the ovals, taking the table closer to a square shape.
Then I took the pieces over to the deck to start painting, and left him with a tiny request: Build a cool-looking wooden panel, ideally with a herringbone pattern, to replace the missing glass.
I left him in his shed, pondering how he was going to make something look cool and what the heck I meant by “herringbone.”
After I sanded everything lightly, I brought out a type of paint I haven’t used in a while: Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint. *dramatic clash of symbols*
While it’s true that I love everything I’ve painted with this stuff, it’s not my go-to product. There’s mixing and whisking and waiting and it tries my patience, BUT the results really are awesome. And how could I resist a colour called “Farmhouse White”?
Because this curbside coffee table wasn’t top-quality wood and I didn’t sand it that well, I mixed in some bonding agent to help the paint adhere.
The sun dried everything quickly, but I was making quite a drippy mess since milk paint is thin and I am a very sloppy painter. Painting the little nooks and crannies of the table legs was especially frustrating, and the table’s shelf was super cheap wood that wasn’t taking the milk paint well at all.
Confession time! I must admit to caving the next day and adding a quick coat of my beloved Fusion Mineral Paint — just on the legs and bottom shelf — to even things out. “Casement” was a good enough match to “Farmhouse White,” and the whole thing looked much better after a bit of distressing, too.
When I was happy with the top of the table, I sanded the milk paint until it was smooth and then brushed on a coat of wax. Once I’d buffed it with a soft cloth, the tabletop was silky smooth to the touch — I call this the “Ahhhh moment,” when the frustration of using milk paint finally pays off.
My handy husband was ready with my tabletop insert, and he’d done a wonderful job. No herringbone pattern — “too many angles,” he said firmly — but he’d created an intricate pattern of squares and rectangles and sanded the whole thing smooth. I loved it.
(Let’s skip over the fact that when I begged my tired-yet-handy husband to help me reattach the table’s shelf and legs — right after he woke up from sleeping off the night shift — he wound up with a drill bit-sized hole in the palm of his hand. Whoops.)
I stained the panel a warm brown (Minwax’s “Dark Walnut”) and applied coat after coat of polyurethane to protect it — sanding lightly between coats to make it velvety smooth. Once it was dry, it took two seconds to set it into the top of the table, thanks to the little grooves he’d routed into the bottom.
It may have taken years, but we finally have a coffee table again! It looks nothing like the hunk of junk I snagged from somebody’s curb, it matches everything in our living room, and it was a great husband-and-wife collaboration (with minimal squabbling and only one injury).